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By Joanna Georgiev. April 24, 2014 - 10:27 am
Months worth of planning and preparation went into the HeART workshop for foster children that MA COM students at Hawaii Pacific University prepared.
Working closely with Family Programs Hawaii, HPU students managed to secure a venue, sponsors for food and take home gifts, as well as provided the hands to help on the day of the event earlier this month.
This year was the 2nd annual HeART of Our Keiki event. Faculty AnnMarie Manzulli has involved her classes with Family Programs Hawaii for almost 4 years now.
The workshop offers children in the foster care system a learning experience and opportunity to create works of art. The intent of the event is to give foster children a chance to voice themselves though various art forms.
“Our goal is that every child in Hawaii has the opportunity and resources to reach his or her full potential, especially children who are in or may become involved in foster care,” said Connie Sizemore, Development Director of FPH. She continued with, “this event was a wonderful way to give the youth a voice to express themselves.”
The Honolulu Museum of Art School provided the venue and two passionate art teachers to facilitate the workshop. “I appreciate that the youth all come from different places and upbringings, all these kids have such different personalities and it reflects in their art,” said artist Eric Beyer.
“It’s helpful to take the kids places and do different things,” explained one foster parent, “this event allows the children to get creative.” For many of these children it’s their first time to the museum and their first time to use the art tools that were provided.
The workshop provides a voice for children to express their abuse, neglect or traumatization that they’ve been through. “Everything you see on paper is about their story and that’s what they will share through their artwork,” said volunteer coordinator Vince Abramo.
A little girl shared a beautiful drawing with three little birds. She explained to one of the HPU grad students Ulrike Kloeditz, that the little bird was her and it was a happy family. In a small speech bubble coming out from the father flamingo she wrote, “we promise to never hit you again.”
Walking back from the museum tour to take the kids to the school and begin painting, Kloeditz spoke with a boy who shared with her that his mother tried to kill him and the police took him away from her. While Kloeditz stood on the crosswalk speechless and in shock, the girl with the flamingo painting comforted the boy by saying “but now everything is good, because your new parents love you.”
Erin Fox , another MA COM student realized how important it is for there to be avenues for children to play and learn in a safe environment. Erin commented at the end of the event that “the workshop allowed children to express and share their feelings through art and connect with others who are just like them.”
Tobias Becker also in the Event Planning and Promotion class at HPU, took the role as client liaison. He was touched by the workshop and felt it a beneficial career experience, “I learned the importance of staying flexible to keep the event running smoothly, which is a valuable skill to learn for any profession.”
If you would like to get involved and join family programs in their mission to help kids, please visit: familyprogramshawaii.org
Photos by Joanna Georgiev and Caspar Kracht.